Book Notes

Notes on Metamorphoses Themes

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Metamorphoses Topic Tracking: Violence

Book 1: Io

Violence 1: Violence occurs in almost every story in Metamorphoses mostly in connection with vengeance. Rape is also part of that violence. Here Jove forces himself upon Io and goes to great lengths have his way with her despite her disinterest.

Book 2: The Raven and The Crow

Violence 2: Phoebus rashly kills his lover for her rumored infidelity and too late to save her, he finds out that she's carrying his child. He regrets his extreme violence, but there's nothing he can do to save her.

Book 3: Cadmus

Violence 3: When Cadmus planted the teeth of the great serpent and armed men sprung from the ground, a bloody battle took place. Although the notes summarize the violence and only present the outcome, Ovid gives a detailed description of the blood and gore of the battle as he does in several other moments throughout the poem. Such violence really isn't necessary, but it seems that Ovid likes to go all out when writing a battle scene.

Book 3: Pentheus and Bacchus

Violence 4: Both Bacchus and previously, Diana, get grisly revenge against mortals who cross them. Rather than turn them to stone, the gods both have the mortals who've angered them ripped to pieces. Bacchus had Pentheus' mother and sisters kill him, while Diana used Actaeon's hunting hounds to kill Actaeon. This is a gory way to get back at someone.

Book 5: Perseus' Fight in the Palace of Cepheus

Violence 5: The description of this battle goes on for pages and pages, but the summary is just a narration of the outcomes of the fight. Ovid goes into great detail about how most of the characters were killed, and the story is extremely violent.

Book 6: Marsyas

Violence 6: Apollo ripped Marsyas skin off because the satyr challenged him to a pipe-playing contest. That seems a rather extreme punishment for his crime.

Book 6: Tereus, Procne, and Philomela

Violence 7: This story is particularly gruesome because it contains kidnapping, rape, mutilation, and cannibalism.

Book 8: Althaea and Meleager

Violence 8: Meleager commits the first crime by killing his uncles, but it is shocking and gruesome the way that his mother burns him alive by throwing the brand that holds his life force into a fire.

Book 9: The Death and Apotheosis of Hercules

Violence 9: The way that Hercules dies is gross. His skin is burned away because of Hydra's poison that is on the shirt Deianira sent him. So as the poison disintegrates Hercules' mortal body, he becomes immortal.

Book 11: The Death of Orpheus

Violence 10: Orpheus is ripped limb from limb by the Maenads, Bacchus' followers, because he'd only loved young boys since his wife died. Ovid describes the way that his body parts were scattered, and it's a very gruesome scene.

Book 12: The Battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs

Violence 11: This is another of Ovid's lengthy and vivid battle scenes.

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